The Closeted Serial Killer, Mansield Jr. Continued

New Year’s Eve, 1975, 15-year-old Elaine Louise Zeigler from Parkman, Ohio went missing from a campground near Brooksville. She was on vacation with her mother and father. She was last seen going to the camp showers, but worry ensued when the next day came and she still had not returned, so her parents reported her missing. She was believed to be a runaway. Nonetheless, search parties were organized by the local police department, and people volunteered. The search was spread out to find her faster, but no one found her. There were claims by several people that a girl matching her description was seen riding a motorbike, and when they asked where she was going, the girl claimed to be returning to her home state of Ohio. Otherwise, there were also reported sightings of Elaine talking to a man in his twenties near the shower area, who later entered his car, a light blue 1966 Ford Fairlane with Florida license plates.

Her parents returned home after a week of searching after giving up hope at the lack of leads.

On January 31. 1971 , Billy pleaded guilty to a sexual misconduct charge against a babysitter in Grand Rapids. He was imprisoned for six months, and was given an additional 36 months’ probation. Shortly after leaving jail, he assaulted two teenagers in a rural area of the city, and was then sent back to prison for violating the conditions of his parole. He shared a cell with 27-year-old Albert Lee III who confided in Mansfield that he murdered an 11-year-old girl. Billy used this information to his advantage, testifying against Lee in exchange for a lesser sentence. He was released after a year.

On June 19, 1980, he forced Pamela Sherrel, 18 year old female, into his van and drove to a rented trailer where he hit her, cutting her lip and bruising her neck. She reported the incident but he evaded arrest. He was arrested five months later in Santa Cruz, but posted bail and was set free.

Later that year, on December 7, the body of 29-year-old René Saling was found by passing motorists at a drainage ditch in Watsonville, California, half-naked. She was a mother of three and was last seen by her husband the previous day. She was found with her clothes torn apart: her blouse and pants lowered to her ankles. The coroner ruled that the cause of death was strangulation. Billy and his brother were arrested four days later in relation to Saling’s murder, the two men lied about their identities and ages, but the police noticed their physical appearanced matched the description of the Mansfield brothers and took them into custody. They were prosecuted on December 16 on murder charges concerning Saling’s death. They wore paper bags over their heads to protect the testimonies of potential witnesses, and were thus dubbed “The Bag Brothers” by the media. They pleaded not guilty and were ordered to stand trial for Saling’s murder on February 4, 1981.

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